Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gratitude is the Key to Happiness

Today I had a talk at church. When I sat back down I had a couple of requests for a copy of it so I'm posting it here so people can just link here to read it. This was my third assignment to speak on this topic. haha! However, this is the first time I focused on happiness through gratitude and it was so much fun! I loved the focus on gaining happiness through gratitude so here is my talk. Enjoy!

 Robert D. Hales said, “Gratitude is a state of appreciation, an act of thanksgiving, which causes us to be humble because we recognize an act of kindness, service, or caring from someone else which lifts us and strengthens us.
“Ingratitude is the attitude of being unaware of not recognizing when someone has assisted us or helped and not given thanks privately or publicly.”
As I was reading the story of Joseph of Egypt, I noticed something I never had before. It’s where Potiphar’s wife is trying to tempt Joseph. “But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold my master knoweth (JST) not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Before, I had always focused on the fact that he refused but never why. Joseph lists his blessings… his gratitude to his God and his master and this is why he cannot sin.
By looking at these blessings, Joseph is able to turn every horrible experience and circumstance he finds himself in into something good. Hartman Rector said, “This ability to turn everything into something good appears to be a godly characteristic. Our Heavenly Father always seems able to do this. Everything, no matter how dire, becomes a victory to the Lord. Joseph, although a slave and wholly undeserving of his fate, nevertheless remained faithful to the Lord and continued to live the commandments and made something very good of his degrading circumstances. People like this cannot be defeated, because they will not give up. They have the correct, positive attitude, and Dale Carnegie’s expression seems to apply: If you feel like a lemon, you can either complain about how sour it is, or you can make lemonade. It is all up to you.”
So, why is it easier to be happy when we are grateful? Gratitude fills us with the Spirit. Doctrine and Covenants 46:7 reads, “do all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men.”
 Bonnie D. Parkin said, “The Lord counsels us not to murmur because it is then difficult for the Spirit to work with us.
“Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with the message of God’s love.”
When I read this, I had an idea. I crossed this quote with Hilary Weeks’ click it program. The one where you click the clicker for every happy thought you have. So, I decided I would continue to click the positive thoughts that pass through my head, including blessings. But, each time I thought of a blessing I would say a quick prayer in my head of thanks to my Heavenly Father. It was an awesome experience. The spirit was strong and I teared up almost every time. I noticed my average happy thoughts increased and I truly felt happier.
I also found gratitude to be a great way to diffuse fights amongst my children. When they were tired of each other, I had them both stop to think of something they were grateful about the other one. If something was going on that the kids didn’t like… waiting in line at the grocery store or other boring and unpleasant activities I make my children endure, I had them think of things they were grateful for. “At least we have food,” was one, a very good one.
One of the kids was upset that I wouldn’t buy them something. My response, “We don’t have enough money to buy you everything.” That child then said, “Well, at least we have enough money for a house. Thanks Mom!” I thought this was great. I didn’t even have to queue this child to think of something to be grateful for. But he expressed gratitude for having a home and then thanked me… I guess for making sure he has a home? I’m not sure, but it was sweet.
In Luke we read the well known story of the Ten Lepers. Christ heals them and only one returns to thank Christ. Jesus says, “thy faith hath made thee whole.” The leper had only thanked him, so is gratitude a form of faith? Yes, it is recognizing that Heavenly Father has given us all that we have. The earth, our families, our food are all blessings from the Lord so by thanking Him for these things we are expressing our faith that these things truly come from Him.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives.” So… if grateful, there is no conceit or arrogance. What is the opposite of that? Charity, which is the pure love of Christ. So, we could say, “When you walk with gratitude, you walk with the pure love of Christ.”
I would like to take a moment and go back to the very first quote I read by Robert D. Hales, “Gratitude is a state of appreciation, an act of thanksgiving, which causes us to be humble because we recognize an act of kindness, service, or caring from someone else which lifts us and strengthens us.” So, gratitude helps us to be humble. Pride is very common and comes in many forms and gratitude is such a simple, easy thing we can do. In one of my scripture journals, I did a page where I drew a line down the middle. On one half I focused on charity and on the other side I focused on pride. I wrote characteristics of each on the appropriate side of the page. I took this opportunity to go back and look at this page while thinking of gratitude and realized everything on the charity side of the page was about love and sacrifice. Gratitude is the first step to lead us onto that path of selflessness and to share that Christ-like love with others.
Alec Miller, chief of child and adolescent psychology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City said he often asks kids what they're grateful for. When they can't identify anything much at all, he sees it as a danger sign of increased risk of severe depression and suicide. But developing a sense of gratitude in kids can help prevent the gradual erosion of self-esteem and build their sense of purpose and ability, he noted.
How can parents help instill a sense of gratitude in their children? Giacomo Bono, a professor of psychology at California State University suggested parents start paying attention to their own sense of gratefulness and model it. "Talk about what you're grateful for, and ask your kids what they appreciate," he said. He also advised mentioning people who have helped in their lives: a teacher who stayed after class, a coach who made a difference. "Talking about gratitude helps guide us all to the things that matter most," he noted. ( )

I was excited for find a study that supported the importance of teaching our children to be grateful and to fill our homes with gratitude.

I was excited for find a study that supported the importance of teaching our children to be grateful and to fill our homes with gratitude. In the Book of Mormon, Amulek teaches us to “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.” If we count our blessings then we are able to see all the many things the Lord does for us and rejoice. Joseph Smith taught, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more.” Thankfulness leads to glory. What an awesome blessing!
Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 reads, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.”
“All things means just that: good things, difficult things – not just some things.
“He has commanded us to be grateful because he knows being grateful will make us happy. This is another evidence of His love.” – Bonnie D Parkin
I am indeed grateful for so much. I am grateful for this amazing Gospel, for my family and for this ward. I am especially grateful for my testimony. I know this Gospel is true. I know that Christ lives. I know the scriptures are true and were given to us to help guide us through these latter-days. I love my Heavenly Father and am so grateful that I can feel His love daily through everything around me. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ryanne's 5th Birthday Party

I am not a cake maker. Ryanne wanted chocolate with chocolate in the bundt pan so that's what I did. It ended up looking like a giant donut but the kids didn't seem to mind. ;)

We went to the salon to get toe nails and finger nails painted. The girls LOVED IT!!!

I have to tell you about Ryanne. As you know, she has never met a stranger. She talks all the time. haha! So, nothing was different here. She talked to this poor woman the entire time. She would move and see what others were doing which would make the girl get a little paint on Ryanne's skin then Ryanne would turn back around and tell you, "You'll have to get that off my skin." The gal would respond, "You're going to have to stop moving so I don't paint your skin." haha! I felt so bad for the poor gal but she did awesome!

They gave each of the girls jolly ranchers and little shoes to wear out so they didn't mess up their nails. They had to cut them down to size for them though. LOL! Not bad for $24 for all four of them. =o)

After the nails we were all hungry so off to Chick fil a we went for food and play. Hooray!! This lasted for about an hour and a half.

Then, on to our house! The girls changed into jammies, sang Happy Birthday to Ryanne, opened gifts then ate cake. We also had popcorn, fresh pineapple and cucumber strips (I was trying to balance out the junk food). They watched a movie for about 30 minutes and then they were done and played. They played hard. Once girls were started to get hurt I had them settle down for about 20 minutes of the movie and then off to play again. By that time, moms started showing up to get them. I think they had fun. I hope they did. Ryanne loved it! It was an almost sleepover except the girls went to bed an somewhat descent hours (around 9pm). Ryanne and I had fun!! Oh, during all this, Paul and Collin were camping with the scouts. Paul has pics from that so I'll have to post those later. 

Fall Festival - SCVCS

SCVCS had another field trip for us. YAY!!! LOVE field trips. This one was done by Clemson University agricultural group.

Playing in the hay stack! I'm so glad my children were able to jump off the haystack into more hay. I have never been able to do that and it looked like so much fun in movies.

The playground was a maze of hay-bales and tunnels. So cool!

Our first booth was to learn about corn and all that corn is used in and the history of corn and such. Then, we got to go through the corn maze. We were told to let the children lead. Collin decided to lead the first group through. He was not the oldest. The oldest was about two heads taller than Collin but Collin led anyways and the other children followed. The parents followed them. Of course, Collin ran through the maze so we had to run to keep up with them. I didn't want them lost in the maze w/o us. haha! But, Collin led us right out. He didn't make a single wrong turn. He said it was easy b/c he could tell which parts of the trail were walked on the most. There was only one tricky part where they had to make a decision.... right or left. He said he had no clue but all the other kids were waiting for him to choose so he went right. We all followed and he led out straight out the maze. LOL! The other group that didn't manage to keep up with my running son got so lost that the people in charge of that area had to go in and get them. LOL! I was proud of Collin for being such a great leader. :)

The next booth was about pumpkins. It was pretty cool. They made pretend GIANT pumpkin pie all together. It was funny. The lady who led the group used to be a kindergarten teacher and it was obvious in the way so spoke to the kids. She didn't lose their attention for a second. 

At the end of this section they got their own pumpkin seeds in a ziploc bag with a wet cotton ball to grow (ours just started molding so we trashed it but it sounded cool). See the boy with blue jacket right in front of the camera here. He was the one I was talking about who had Collin leading.... along with all these other children. hehe!

Time for the "hay-ride". There was no hay but, whatever. This was an informative ride. The guy in the front was telling us about all the things they do there and learn and was teaching the kids about the different plants growing and experiments they do there.


After the hay ride we went to the Children's Garden which was SUPER COOL!!!! This was a human sized bird house so the kids could see what it would be like to live in a bird house.

Eeyore in Pooh's Garden

Old MacDonald's Farm... cutest thing ever!

They also had Mr.McGregor's Garden and all kinds of things. I just loved how they did a play area based off children's literature. Isn't that awesome!!!???? The correct answer is YES!!!

Randomness - Halloween/Parks/Cubscouts

No, Collin is not in cubscouts yet. He could be a tiger scout but the church doesn't start until wolves so he has another year. But... one of my favorite responsibilities I have in primary is working with the cubscout program. This means that I get to bring Collin with me to pack meetings and occasionally I take the kids to den meetings as well. Collin got to bob for apples for the first time.

It took him a while but eventually he did get an apple. YAY!! It was hard b/c he is missing two of his four front teeth. haha!

He has finally gotten pumping down. Hooray!! So, when we go to the park he can normally be found on the swings. It's nice not have to push him constantly. I can just sit back and watch him swing while I try to keep up with Ryanne.

Trunk or treat at church. I was one of the people in charge of the fall carnival so I didn't get a lot of pictures b/c I pretty much just turned my children loose in the church while I handled other responsibilities. There were lots of carnival games, food, and a spook alley. Of course, there was trunk or treating at the end. There were about 270 people at this thing. I was so tired when it was over. LOL! But, it turned out really awesome and the kids had a blast so it was all worth it!!

Feast of the Dead!! So, instead of going trick or treating Halloween night (b/c the kids get enough candy from trunk or treating) we have a Feast of the Dead. Basically... we eat lots of food and watch a Halloween movie. Here are the "mummy-dogs" the kids made. hehe! 

And Frog Eyed Salad!!!

Our adorable pumpkin went on sale Halloween day for $1.99 so we got him. He was HUGE!! Ryanne drew the eyes and Collin drew the nose and mouth. I cut, of course. Didn't he turn out cute? I had to trash him Friday and it was so sad. He had turned into a slimy mess but he really was cute and here's the proof!